Trump celebrates acquittal, denounces 'vicious' opponents in post-impeachment insult blitz

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By Allan Smith  with NBC News Politics
Image: Donald Trump
President Donald Trump arrives to speak to the media, one day after the U.S. Senate acquitted on two articles of impeachment, in the East Room of the White House on Feb. 6, 2020 in Washington.   -   Copyright  Mark Wilson Getty Images

President Donald Trump aired a years-long list of grievances Thursday, calling his political opponents "vicious and mean" and heaping praise on his allies a day after the Senate voted to acquit him on two articles of impeachment.

In an address at the White House that he himself called "not a speech," Trump celebrated his acquittal and said "we went through hell unfairly."

He refused to concede any wrongdoing, again describing his July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy that launched a series of events leading to his impeachment as "perfect" and "a very good call."

"I know bad phone calls," Trump said, and this conversation was not one.

Impeachment, he said, was a "very ugly" word.

"Totally appropriate call," Trump said, adding, "And they brought me to the final stages of impeachment."

But then, on the other hand, he mentioned he "never thought a word would sound so good."

"It's called 'total acquittal,'" he said.

Trump waved around the front page of The Washington Post, as he did earlier Thursday morning at the National Prayer Breakfast, which contained a huge headline about his acquittal.

He spent time blasting former FBI Director James Comey, of whom he said: "Had I not fired James Comey who was a disaster, by the way, it's possible I wouldn't even be standing here right now."

"We caught him in the act," Trump said of Comey, who he later called a "sleazebag."

"Dirty cops, bad people. If this happened to President Obama, a lot of people would have been in jail for a long time already, many, many years."

The president also referenced his earlier remarks at the prayer breakfast, in which he excoriated impeachment and his opponents while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sat steps away. Trump said: "I had Nancy Pelosi sitting four seats away and I'm saying things that a lot of people wouldn't have said but I meant every word of it." And he criticized House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., as "a failed screenwriter."

"They're vicious and mean," Trump said of his opponents. "Vicious. These people are vicious. Adam Schiff is a vicious, horrible person. Nancy Pelosi is a horrible person."

Trump's remarks often went in bizarre directions and were akin to speeches at his raucous rallies. Trump not only discussed impeachment, but who he would cast in famous Hollywood films, Rep. Jim Jordan's workout routine, former New York Yankees second baseman Bobby Richardson and having personally interviewed candidates for U.S. Senate. Of Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Ariz., Trump said he he liked her last name and that's why he "picked" her as the candidate to back in a GOP primary.

One by one, the president went around the room and praised Republicans as he spoke for roughly an hour.

It was a far cry from former President Bill Clinton's post-acquittal remarks in 1999, in which he said he was "profoundly sorry" for his conduct.